Cactus works with a huge number of teachers, many of whom have been teaching for us for years. Here at Cactus we have a dedicated Academic Department in place specifically to interview prospective teachers, to assist them with their continued development and to offer guidance on course content and resources.
We are fortunate to have a hugely talented pool of teachers, and consider the standard of the teaching on offer to be fantastic. All of our teachers are experienced, enthusiastic and either native speakers of the language they teach, or of native speaker level.
We talked to a selection of our foreign language teachers, to give you an idea of who they are, and the kinds of skills that they offer.
Claudia Colia (Italian teacher)
Claudia (pictured above) is one of our London-based Italian teachers. She has been living in London since 2003, although originally comes from Rome, where she qualified as a teacher of Italian as a foreign language. Prior to gaining her teaching qualification, she also completed a degree in History of Art and a Masters degree in Contemporary Art Theory.
Claudia teaches a range of Italian evening classes for us in London, although also teaches on a one-to-one basis and in companies.
We asked Claudia what she enjoys most about teaching and she said:
“For me teaching and interaction with my students are really rewarding. I like my classes to be a full-immersion experience not only with the language, but also with the culture of my country. To enhance this experience, I always source new materials for my lessons and I keep updated with the more recent communicative approaches. I teach in all the fundamental aspects of the language, including syntax and grammar rules, but my method is more based on communication, so that my students can express themselves in Italian from the very beginning of the course. “
We also asked her to tell us about memorable aspects of her teaching career, to which she replied:
“I helped an opera singer to improve her career and enlarge her repertoire; I quickly prepared a beginner student to speak Italian in few weeks for business reasons, enabling her to successfully take part in a fair in Italy. I also had many students who were engaged to an Italian, and wanted to learn the language to communicate better with their partners and families. Most of them got married in the end!”
Katrin Fischer (German teacher)
Katrin is based between Liverpool and Manchester, and teaches German both on evening courses and within companies.
Katrin is originally from Jena, Germany but has lived in the UK since August 2008. Prior to that she spent time in Lucerne, Switzerland, where she gained the European Certificate in Language Teaching to Adults.
She loves the contact with people that teaching allows, and really enjoys meeting new people. We asked her what the key to a good lesson was, and she mentioned three specific things:
– Enthusiasm! It’s really important to show that you love your job so that your students engage with you and enjoy the lessons.
– Good preparation. It’s imperative to prepare properly for your lessons to ensure that they have a good structure. Structured lessons mean optimum learning.
– Good (and relevant) materials. A teacher must always use good materials and resources in lessons as they too are integral to successful learning.
On the flip side, we also asked her what the key to successful learning is, to which she replied:
“Do as much extra study as you can – it really shows…there’s a huge difference between those who do and those who don’t. Also, go to the country where it’s spoken if you can – it gives you a great chance to practise, and to immerse yourself in the culture’.
Veronica de Felice (Italian teacher)
Originally from Naples, Italy, Veronica lives in London, where she teaches evening courses and private lessons. She has been teaching for Cactus for 4 years, and has been in the UK for the last eight.
In terms of teaching qualifications, Veronica holds a CLTA Honours Degree in Foreign Languages, and the DTLLS.
According to Veronica, teaching is the best job in the world – she finds it really rewarding to see her students’ progress, and loves being able to pass on her knowledge so successfully.
She, like Katrin, believes that teachers must be enthusiastic in their lessons – especially when it comes to evening courses, when students can be tired after a long day at work. She focuses a lot on speaking activities to keep her students interested and involved, and tends to leave writing tasks mainly for homework.
Her top tip for successful language learning would be to take every opportunity to read books and watch films in the language outside of classes. You will learn a lot in your lessons, but a bit of independent learning on top will boost your progress significantly.
Fabienne Coupe (French teacher)
Fabienne was born in Valence, 70 miles south of Lyon, but has lived in the UK for nearly 18 years now. She has been teaching for four years and has got a City & Guilds Teaching Certificate qualification.
Fabienne is currently teaching some of Cactus’ French evening courses in Manchester, and says that she loves the contact she has with her students, and watching them gain confidence and progress.
When asked about the ‘key’ to teaching a good lesson, she said that she thinks it’s very important to get to know your group well, from the beginning, and to get regular feedback, throughout the course. And of course, having a clear lesson plan for each lesson, which is tailored to the group’s needs, is essential. She also recognises the importance of giving everyone a chance to participate and of giving everyone plenty of encouragement, especially the less confident students.
Her tips for successful language learning include regular work, preferably little and often, and plenty of practice, ideally in the country where the language is spoken.
Amongst the memorable things that have happened during her teaching career, she recalls covering narration using the past tense, and the many funny stories the students came up with. One of her students told the class about a young boy bringing a ferret in a bag on a bus she was travelling on, years ago, and the animal escaping from the bag and running wild amongst astounded and horrified passengers! She’s never forgotten that!
Cedric Pytel (French teacher)
Cedric teaches French for Cactus in London – at the moment once or twice a week. He’s originally from Geneva, but has lived in London for the last 13 years.
Cedric has been teaching since 1999 and has a Masters degree in French literature, an RSA (Royal Society of Art) certificate in teaching foreign languages and a City and Guilds 7307/1.
He loves sharing his language and culture with students and thinks that, as a teacher, it’s imperative for each lesson to have a clear goal that builds on previous knowledge, and to incorporate a variety of interactive activities to reach that goal.
Cedric’s advice for language students would be not to be afraid of making mistakes – it’s a really important part of the learning process and is necessary to ensure that you progress!
Cactus offers evening courses in a range of languages around the UK, the US and Canada. Courses are offered in 5 or 10-week format, although intensive 1-week and weekend courses are aslo available. Please visit the dedicated evening course website for full course listings, to test your language level, or to book.